Filed under Open Records
Tagged as City Manager, Randy Robertson
I feel I’m on base again, I haven’t ever seen so many flags, there on web sights along our street on fliers. Maybe that’s why the city manager lost his last job, turning the city into his headquarters.
Now the walking trail around charles daniels park has his writing’s all over it. Welcome to Randy town. I really think he’s not left the post or maybe he has left the post and that’s the problem. Will the new mayor please relieve him of duty. We would like our city back.
Folks, when you cut through all of the chaff, when you brush aside the partisanship and when you go beyond the war of ideals, when you get past the bickering and enmity between left and right, east and west, pro-property tax/no-property tax crowds, the place you arrive at is the land of citizen rights, laws, ordinances, resolutions, regulations and policy. Each and every law, ordinance, resolution, regulation and policy is supposed to be developed and enforced for the “common good” of the people. Our government is supposed to serve and protect the citizenry. Government and all those who are employed by it are servants of the people. Anyone entering into public life needs to accept that they are entering into a life of service to others or they have no business in that field. Anyone endowed with the power to enact laws, pass ordinances and resolutions, and enact or adopt public policy should, before passing or turning down any item before them, ask themselves this question; “will this serve the greater good for the people”? Such is the issue with open records.
Open records give the citizens an opportunity to lift the lid on government operations and see what is going on inside. We need to be able to take a look at what they are doing and what they are working on in order to determine if government is going in the right direction or not. Ray Justice once said in a commission meeting; “most citizens, if their toilet flushes, figure government must be working okay.” That made me so angry! But then I realized that the reason it made me angry was because he was so right. I was asleep at the wheel as a citizen! I was numb-mindedly allowing government to do whatever it wanted. Another saying kept haunting me and that was the saying; “if you aren’t going to do anything to change something, you have no right to complain about it”! Now, I suppose Ray was probably only repeating what he heard one of his puppeteers say, but that only means that they were right and he was smart enough to repeat it. I don’t think our government is working “okay”, and I know that unless I do something about it I have no right to complain.
There is a pervasive and systemic issue within America that needs to be turned on its head…we have allowed things to get turned topsy-turvy. Government believes it is in charge of the people! Government, that nebulous term that describes the organizations, institutions, people, policies, sets of laws, layers of bureaucracy, and branches that orchestrate daily life in America, has developed the collective posture that “we” are there for “its” good pleasure! Think I am wrong? Go ahead, test me. Go to city hall and start making public records requests, but make no mention of “why” you are asking for the information or “what” you intend to do with it. Ask for copies of the finances. Ask to look at the personnel records of the city manager. Ask to see the e-mail transmissions between Linda Elam and the other Commissioners (Remember, those e-mail transmissions are likely to be ILLEGAL). If you were to test me on this you would soon find that I am right. You have a legal right to access those records, but yet you will find yourself being attacked for asking for them. You see, their job is simply to give you the information, not analyze “why” you want the information or “what” you are going to do with it…but that isn’t how they see it. Mr. Robertson made the statement to me; “Mr. Huber, since I have been city manager you have asked for 10 public records requests and there is no record of you ever having asked for a record before I came here (only because records of records requests were not kept before he came here), and we think we know why”. “AND WE THINK WE KNOW WHY”! “and WE think we know WHY”! Who is “WE”, and why are you even worried about “WHY” I am looking? If “WE” haven’t done anything wrong, “WE” don’t have anything to worry about, do “WE”? Don’t miss it here…wait for it…pay close attention…here it is…”WHY DOES Mr. ROBERTSON FEEL THAT IT IS OKAY TO EVEN ENGAGE IN SUCH DIALOG WITH ME?”!!! WHO WORKS FOR WHOM IN THIS SITUATION? IMAGINE HOW MR. ROBERTSON WOULD REACT IF HE HAD A CLERK TREAT HIM THE SAME WAY. I can see it now; Mr. Robertson asks for a record from a clerk working for the city and the clerk responds; “Mr. Robertson, since you came to work for this city you have asked me for 10 records, but before you came here I can’t remember ever being asked for a record, and I think I know why”. The clerk would be on the George Washington Program (A part of history) immediately. But isn’t that exactly how Mr. Robertson is treating me? Shouldn’t he be on the George Washington Program as well?
You might ask, “why is it so important that we have access to public records”? While that would be a good question, one in which I will answer here, the first question that should be asked is, “why aren’t you asking the question, ‘why aren’t they following the law regarding public records?’. You and I have a fundamental right to view and obtain public records. The legislature just spent a lot of time on the topic of public records, enacted a new law, and developed the office of open records so that you and I could have better access to public records. Mr. Robertson believes the opposite! He believes their motives were to make it harder to obtain public records! I am not just saying that, I am telling you what he indicated to me during a phone conversation! He believes the new law and the recent developments were put in place to make it MORE difficult for us to look in on government operations!
So, why is it important to have access to public records? Because without the ability to oversee what government is doing, they can get away with just about anything. I have seen first hand how tremendously difficult it is to bring public officials to justice. Once they have done something illegal, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to put the genie back in the proverbial box. Nobody wants to touch it! So, unless we have an opportunity to block their actions, either by public pressure or through legal action, they can get away with just about anything. The only real chance that they will be brought to justice is if they step on the tail fins of bigger fish or if they are causing bigger fish to be put in peril. However, unless they draw the ire of bigger fish, they are pretty safe. In fact, the bigger fish love it when the guppies violate the law because they can use it to hold over the guppies’ heads later on down the political stream!
There isn’t anyone at City Hall that is going to step up and let us know what is going on down there, the powers that be at City Hall will fire anyone who gets in their way. We need to be proactive and observant of what is happening at City Hall. We need to be on guard and look out for ourselves because God knows they only look out for themselves.
I will sum up the reason we need access to public records in the words of the immortal Barney Fife. Because we need to “nip it in the bud”.
Chapter 3 scene 1
Colonel Randy Pinoche stands pounding on Acme Hollow-man door. I can’t take this any more! My nose is soooo sore. He pushes open the door, and there Acme Hollow-man stands stirring potions into a big smoky pot. Alligator tears, that’s what we need, more alligator tears, murmuring as he throws them in the pot. He looks up, “Not so loud Colonel, you have to be quiet, because everyone around here thinks you’re a real boy”.
The Colonel cracks his wooden knuckles and speaks; “we need to prepare for the incoming commission”, (the changing of the guard as some might say). “We will need more flags, more mirrors, more plaques, and some sharper shears for the new sheep. And yes, Jelly Johnson needs more guards at the city gates”. “I thought I changed those locks!” Acme Hollow-man shouts. “NO! NO”! Colonel Pinoche speaks out;” it’s the truth, that’s what’s trying to get out”.
Marty Kill’s hands shot straight up as the Colonel’s nose hits his back. “Put your hands down, it’s just me,” he says. “Where’s Aimless Rookie, Gary Brando and inspector Gary Gadget? We need all the troops for a special meeting. Listen up! We need to start taking more credit for the things we haven’t done, the roads, the schools the building inspections, and those fire code inspections, right Marty? And don’t forget if we spin all our gold to protect the peasants from fire, we won’t get that lifetime membership at the Y. So wake up people”.
“Now, where is that Army tank I ordered from Acme? It’s going to look real nice in front of city hall. Maybe that’ll keep those peons from the secret files. And finally, be very, very careful of all the pits we’ve been digging that we don’t fall in ourselves. How’s that brew coming along Hollow-man? I’ve been a puppet a pauper a pirate a poet, a pawn and a king, Oh how I love to sing”!
To be continued
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